The Saint Mary’s Huskies might have three straight Atlantic University Sport football titles, but they’re far from satisfied on the national scale.

The Huskies, who open training camp Saturday, have been ousted in the national semifinals each of the past two years by the Western Ontario Mustangs and Calgary Dinos.

“We really worked hard this off-season to try to raise our game and match the top teams in the country,” said Huskies head coach Steve Sumarah. “Sometimes you need those (losses) to give you a true indication of where you actually stand.”

The Huskies return starting quarterback Jack Creighton and the all-star running back tandem of Devon Jones and Craig Leger. All-star kicker Justin Palardy and defensive back Devon Hicks are the club’s biggest losses.

But the Huskies are thrilled with their recruiting class, especially on the defensive side.

Healthy all-Canadian Dan Schutte returns on the defensive line, which will also receive a boost from Brian Ridgeway, a Montreal Alouettes draft choice who transferred from the Simon Fraser Clan.

“We return enough pieces of the puzzle that — mixed with the new guys — we’re kind of excited where this is going to go,” Sumarah said.

“It will definitely be interesting.”

Opener coming soon

The Saint Mary’s Huskies open training camp Saturday at Huskies Stadium. They will spend the next two weeks preparing for their Atlantic University Sport season opener Saturday, Sept. 11, against the Acadia Axemen in Wolfville, live on EastLink television.

Huskies facts

• The Huskies reeled off seven straight wins after a season-opening loss in 2009 to finish 7-1.

• The Huskies had the nation’s third best defence (14.9 points allowed per game), seventh best rushing offence (192.8 yards) and 11th best passing offence (246 yards).